How to Know If a Cell Phone Number Is Still in Service

By Melly Parker

Updated August 23, 2017

If a cell number isn't in service, no one is getting calls on it.
i Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

When someone isn't answering her cell phone, it can be frustrating for the caller. An extended international vacation, a new mobile contract or a dead phone are all reasons a person might go awhile without picking up at a new number. However, if you suspect a cell phone number has been deactivated, you may be able to confirm it with a little detective work.

Call Blocking

If someone has blocked you from making calls to his cell phone, you will normally hear one ring before being directed to voicemail. If he doesn't have voicemail, you may get a message that he is not available for calls.

Service Area

If a person isn't answering his phone, he may simply be out of the service area or have the mobile switched off. If the phone isn't active, it may ring only once or twice before going to voicemail. As long as the voicemail account for the person is still active, the phone number is still in service -- even if the phone is off or the person is out of service area for a long period of time.


When a person ends her contract with a mobile service provider, her phone may go out of service. Often, at the end of a contract when a person chooses not to renew, she can simply port her number to a new carrier; the number never truly goes out of service. However, she also has the option to get an entirely new number, at which point the older number would be out of service.


If you're hoping to snag a particular mobile number, the most you can do is request it from a mobile service provider and hope for the best. Unfortunately, there is no service that allows you to check whether a number is inactive and ready to be used. That's why you should always speak to a new carrier before ending your old contract if you want to keep an old mobile number.


The best way to determine whether a number is still in service is simply to call it. A voicemail account belonging to an individual proves that the number is still being used. If the number has recently gone out of service, you're likely to get an automated message saying the number isn't in service or that the call can't be answered.